Presented on Saturday, October 5, 2019 in the Barn at Quarry Farm as part of the "Mark Twain and Nature" Quarry Farm Symposium.
With its complex treatment of animal subjectivity, Twain's 1903 story "A Dog's Tale" was ahead of its time. But also, Twain's stance on vivisection and the status of animals in society was a part of the larger conversation that was taking place at the time on both sides of the Atlantic. This paper will situate Twain's stance in the context of the vivisection controversy, including some leading voices who directly networked with the famous author to solicit his support for the cause, and it will connect Twain's prescient portrayal of animal voice to modern-day animal rights activism and post-humanist philosophy.
Emily E. VanDette is Professor of English at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where she teaches courses in 19th-century American literature and women's writing. As a Quarry Farm Fellow in July 2017, she conducted research for a scholarly monograph about the literature of the early animal welfare movement in the U.S. Her critical edition of the 1904 Trixy by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps is forthcoming in Ocotber 2019, and it includes Twain's "A Dog's Tale" in its entirety.